Dear Readers – Office odours are a situation faced by many, according to the mass response I’ve received regarding a smoker’s smell (April 30):
Reader #1 – “I’m a smoker at work, and since I began quickly washing my hands and face with soap and warm water (after smoking and before returning to the office), this seems to cover up a significant amount of the smell. Comments about my smoking have decreased very significantly. Employers could be helpful to all by suggesting this.”
Reader #2 – “I've had the same issue at my workplace, sitting near a man who’s a heavy smoker, with the tobacco smell bothering me. My solution is to turn on a small fan I keep at my desk. This helps to circulate the air and I no longer smell the tobacco.”
Reader #3 – “The co-worker is probably unaware how much he/she smells… since smoking decreases the smoker’s sense of smell.
“Say this: "You smell very strongly of cigarette smoke and it really bothers me. I've considered spraying some air freshener, but that might bother you, so any suggestions?"
“You’ll have been straightforward, offered an opportunity to get in on a solution, and acknowledged that you care about how they feel.”
Reader #4 – “When I was still secretly smoking, I sprayed an odour neutralizer in the air around me, letting it settle on me, to kill the smell. My partner never asked if I'd been smoking.”
Reader #5 – “Most likely this person is smoking in an enclosed space before arriving at work, such as his/her car. If the person stopped smoking during that time, much of the problem will be solved.”
Reader #6 – “I’d recommend a small portable air cleaner in the office. It might raise the question by the smoky neighbour as to why there’s an air cleaner.
“A dialogue would be opened and a solution could then be discussed.”
Reader #7 – “My husband’s a smoker. As much as I'd like him to quit, he's not ready yet, but the smell can be overpowering. One thing that helps is washing his hands when he comes in from a smoke. The smell still sticks to his clothes, but it's more concentrated on his hands from holding the cigarette.
“We have a toddler whose clothes will acquire that smoky smell if my husband picks him up before washing his hands.”
Ellie – Perhaps he’ll get “ready” to quit sooner if you show him the research on how second-hand smoke may affect his toddler’s young lungs.
Reader #8 – “I was once manager of a call centre and received many such complaints. It’s Human Resource's responsibility to ensure a clean, safe, and comfortable work environment.
“So it’s management's job to tell the “smelly” worker that he/she needs to tend to their body odour. It affects everyone in the office and in turn affects productivity.
“As a manager, I dealt with it in a direct and courteous fashion. It wasn't a pleasant task, but it was a professional encounter.”
Reader #9 – “If it’s as uncomfortable to your manager as yourself to deal directly with the individual, request that the manager send an anonymous email to the individual (don’t do this yourself, it may appear as harassment).
“If your manager/HR department seems unresponsive to your verbal requests, put your complaint in writing, with specific reasons, and keep a dated copy. Few managers ignore written requests.
“Or request to be moved. Again, put it in writing, keep a dated copy, and be specific as to the reasons why.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “trainer” who gave physiotherapy to a client while nude (April 16):
Reader – “A physiotherapist gives physiotherapy. Unless a trainer is a physiotherapist, then they cannot apply physiotherapy.
“Also, no physiotherapist would require a client to be nude. That would be an absolute no-no! Unprofessional and unnecessary. There is something very wrong with that writer’s assumed scenario. And to hear that a “personal trainer” or anyone else would require nudity for any type of treatment would be totally inappropriate.
“Even a physician, if a patient needs to be examined, will always provide a gown for privacy.
“Please encourage anyone who is asked to take off his or her clothes for training or physiotherapy to decline and report this request. We're expected to teach our children to know right from wrong. Red flags should have gone up from the female patient, or her husband to whom she told the story.”
Tip of the day:
Instead of resenting offensive workplace odours, discuss solutions with your co-worker.